Tag Archives: Orthodox Church

The Orthodox West

There are members of the Orthodox Church that use the Latin Mass as their Order of Worship instead of the Greek Liturgy. It is very interesting to consider that members of the Orthodox Church consider the Latin Mass, the spiritual patrimony of the historic Latin Western Church as part of their patrimony, too. In some ways the proponents look at the history and horizons of Orthodoxy as not merely being Greek or “Eastern.” Most of will say that to be Orthodox is to use the Greek forms. One needs to know that in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and the Antiochian Orthodox Church have a growing membership using the Latin Mass.

Here is a brief video, “The Orthodox West,” which documents their perspective and work.

Orthodox ordain women deacons

The Orthodox Church of Alexandria (Egypt and all of Africa) ordained a few women to the diaconate. His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, did the ordination on February 17, 2017 in the  Democratic Republic of Congo.

In a slight contrast, The Church of Greece officially “brought back” the female diaconate in 2004, though one Metropolitan had ordained a nun in 1986.

In this picture you see the women being tonsured a reader, which happens outside the altar (iconostasis) leading to being ordained deaconesses. A news brief is here.

Theologically in the Orthodox Church, ordination is not an ontological change. The Roman Church holds to a theology that says at priestly ordination the soul is changed ontologically. There is a hot debate in Roman Church about what happens to the man when ordained to the Order of Deacon (is there a change at the level of the soul?). That change happens when one receives the Mysteries of Initiation (scraments): baptism, chrismation Eucharist —one becomes a “new creation” in Jesus Christ. It may be more accurate to say that Pope Theodoros II consecrated but not ordained the women. In any event, this gesture is very significant and forward thinking and right.

Continuing in the ancient tradition Ordination, rather, is the setting apart for a specific task, for example as a reader, sub-deacon, deacon, priest, or bishop. Hence, the diakonia is lived according to rank: servant, elder, overseer. These women are being set aside for a specific task within the Alexandrian Church of Alexandria, a task which appropriately belongs to the order of deacons –the women were blessed into a minor order (cheirothesia). Yet, the exact nature of their diaconal ministry is unclear except to say they will be working for the mission of the Church. Also, absent from view is the liturgical text and rubrics used by the Alexandrian Pope. Some of the markers of this ordination are the towels and washing of the bishop’s hands, which are clearly pictured.

There is a Pan-Orthodox document (Consultation on Rhodes, 1988) stating that the church had, indeed, ordained females to the diaconate and recognized that, in some places, it had never fallen out of practice.

The Orthodox Church names women who fulfiled the ministry in the Order of Deacon and are saints: St Tatiana (January 12), St Olympias (July 25), and St Foebe (September 3).

Bartholomew convokes Orthodox Primates

The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the point of unity among Eastern Chrsitians, has called the patriarchs and archbishops of the world’s Orthodox Churches to a meeting in Istanbul in March. This meeting is a precursor to a Pan-Orthodox Synod slated for 2015. Orthodox Primates last me in Constantinople in 2008.

Asianews.it carries one of the stories. For more on the event and for Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon’s comments read, “Bartholomew convokes the Primates of the Orthodox Churches.”

The Ecumenical Patriarch is 74 and has served the Church as a priest since 1969 and in this present capacity since 1991. He is the 27oth successor of Saint Andrew the Apostle. His Holiness’ biography is here.

This is terrific news!!!

All the holy Apostles, pray for the Primates!

The Plight of Churches in the Middle East – Revisited

ravennaxcTheologians and bishops from the Catholic and Orthodox Church meet frequently to discuss topics of mutual concern fostering not only good friendships but also doing some intellectual work in an effort to know what each other holds to be to true and how each Church works pastorally.

There are times one gets the impression that these consultations are great for mutual understanding but lack an identifiable concrete plan for full, visible and concrete unity. Statements, discussions, lunches and other collaborative efforts are noble and worth supporting. Who could pass up good food and discussion. Yet, there has to be more. This is especially helpful in humanitarian efforts and developing a friendship in Christ as a brothers and sisters. But can we ask, what the concrete goal is for the theological consultations like this one?

What follows is the Statement of the Members of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation, Mississauga, Ontario October 26, 2013.

In 2011 we, the members of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation* deplored the devastating losses in the Christian communities of the Middle East in the aftermath of the “Arab Spring.” Today the situation of many of the Christian communities in Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine has become catastrophic.

Together with the 2013 Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, we repudiate all violence and demand action by responsible authorities to end the kidnapping, torture, and killing of Christians and all civilians. We also appeal for the release of Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Boulos Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim, both of Aleppo, Syria.

Pope Francis in exhorting the international community “to make every effort to promote clear proposals for peace without further delay, a peace based on dialogue and negotiation… May no effort be spared in guaranteeing humanitarian assistance to those wounded by this terrible conflict, in particular those forced to flee and the many refugees in nearby countries.”

As the Canadian Council of Churches has stated, “We are concerned for the safety and security of all the people in the region, but in particular, the weak, vulnerable and powerless. The spread of sectarian violence puts all generations throughout the region at risk and is a menace to the hopes and dreams of the younger generations.”

With the Clergy-Laity Conference of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston, we “deplore the wanton destruction of Christian churches, monasteries, convents, orphanages and hospitals throughout the Middle East….We call upon the leaders of our nation to protest these unspeakable acts of terror and to work unceasingly to bring to an end the heinous genocide of our brethren.”

When one part of the body suffers, all suffer (cf. 1 Cor. 12:26). As Orthodox and Catholic Christians, we therefore have the responsibility to respond to the needs of our brothers and sisters. We call upon our communities to continue to pray for the churches and for peace in this part of the world. We urge the leadership of our churches to continue to intervene vigorously in behalf of the Christians of the Middle East, who live in fear for their lives, their communities, and the very future of Christianity in the region.

*The members of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation are appointed by the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America and, on the Catholic side, by both the Canadian and United States Conferences of Catholic Bishops.

Some notes:

Members of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation of meet every five years in Canada. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops hosted this year’s meeting.

The Consultation was co-chaired by Metropolitan Methodios of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston, and by Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

The Consultation engaged in discussions pertinent to Orthodox – Catholic relations around such matters as synodality, papal primacy, priestly celibacy and the role of the laity.

Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Ph.D., of Brown University and Sr. Susan K. Wood, SC, of Marquette University provided a summary of papers already presented on the role of the laity in the two churches; Father John Erickson, emeritus dean and professor of Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, presented his paper on “Conciliarity or Synodality? Historical Notes on a Modern Issue”; Father John Galvin, of The Catholic University of America, presented a paper by Msgr. Thomas J. Green, “Lay Ministries in the Church: Comparative Reflections on the Eastern and Latin Codes”; and Father Peter Galadza, of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute summarized previously published papers on celibacy, marriage and the priesthood.

The Consultation reports that a panel discussion and meeting between seminarians from St. Augustine’s Seminary (Catholic) and The Greek Orthodox Theological Academy of Toronto. Among the many things shared, there were reflections on the Consultation’s 2010 agreed statement, “Steps Towards a Reunited Church: A Sketch of an Orthodox-Catholic Vision for the Future.”

Metropolitan Sotirios, of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto host lunch and Cardinal Thomas Collins of the Archdiocese of Toronto also encouraged the seminarians and members of the Consultation in their important work. The next meeting is scheduled for June 2-4, 2014.

Syrian Patriarch John X Yazigi interview

Pope Francis and Patriarch John X Yazigi, the spiritual father of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East met today. It was a time to discuss the pain and suffering that Syrian Christians face daily and to express his love to Pope Francis.

 

 

It’s expected that Patriarch John will attend Mass offered by Pope Francis. Sunday is a day dedicated in the Year of Faith as a day for catechists. The Patriarch will also be meeting the foreign minister of the Italian Republic, and with the people of the ecclesial movement of Sant’Egidio at an interface conference. Sant’Egidio is on the front lines of peace making.

Patriarch John is, as you know, the blood brother of one of the kidnapped Syrian bishops this past April. So he knows first hand not only the crisis his people live with but also deeply because his brother’s freedom (and life) is hanging in the balance.

Striking is the openness of Patriarch John for collaborating with others to bring peace and be with the people; his desire to walk the journey (a procession as the Patriarch said) to full, visible unity among Christians is evident.

Vatican Radio’s Philippa Hichen interviewed Patriarch John X and you can listen to it here.

And, an informative video on the meeting by Rome Reports.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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